For over 200 years, naturalization has been regulated by federal law here in America. Of course, what U.S naturalization regulation looks like has shifted significantly over the course of these two-plus centuries. This can be seen in a recent Public Radio International article which went over some of the big shifts in U.S. naturalization eligibility rules that have occurred over the years.
The Naturalization Act of 1790 was the first federal law in the U.S. regarding the regulation of the process of foreign-born individuals becoming U.S. citizens. This law is far different from the naturalization regime currently in place, including that this first naturalization law was incredibly restrictive in what types of people could qualify for U.S. citizenship. Under it, naturalization eligibility was only open to "free white persons."
There have been a great deal of immigration/naturalization legislation and rulings in the U.S since this first law. These laws/rulings varied greatly in the types of changes they made and what they did regarding naturalization eligibility. Some opened up naturalization to more individuals while others added eligibility restrictions and limitations.
The current naturalization regulatory regime in the U.S. derives largely from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
So, it has been quite a long and winding road when it comes to naturalization regulation here in America. One wonders what sorts of changes and shifts in naturalization law the country will see in the future.
When pursuing U.S. naturalization, it is important for a person to have a clear understanding of the process and rules that they are subject to under the current naturalization regulatory regime and to properly address issues that come up for them in relation to their particular circumstances during the course of applying for U.S. citizenship. Help with the naturalization process is among the services individuals can seek out from skilled immigration law attorneys.